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Petra Blaisse’s new book Art Applied reflects on a career of trailblazing and multihyphenate creativity

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Petra Blaisse’s new book Art Applied reflects on a career of trailblazing and multihyphenate creativity

Inside Outside, from Art Applied (MACK, 2024)/Courtesy Inside Outside and MACK
Dutch designer Petra Blaisse founded her practice, Inside Outside, in 1991; in the 33 years since, the erstwhile “one woman shop,” as Blaisse described it, has evolved into a multidisciplinary design firm whose commissions range across scales and media to include textiles, interiors, exhibitions, and landscapes. A new book, Art Applied (Mack Books), edited by Fredi Fischli and Niels Olsen, provides a comprehensive overview of Blaisse’s varied work—including early projects that predated Inside Outside—in nearly nine hundred pages.

Blaisse is not a typical designer, and Art Applied is hardly a conventional monograph. The book traces the evolution of her unique practice from the very beginning to its current form. Starting out in 1986, her first freelance design projects for exhibitions, interiors, and gardens were commissions that followed almost a decade of work as an exhibition designer for the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Inside Outside didn’t materialize until five years later, when she registered her studio with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce. At the time, she was still working solo and carrying her archives in the back of her car, as she recalled.The projects are organized in reverse chronological order, a structure which converts reading forward into an experience of digging into the past. The most recent work appears at the front of the book—the 2022 exhibition Inside Outside/Petra Blaisse: A Retrospectiveat the MAXXI in Rome—while the earliest collaboration arrives at the very end: the Netherlands Dance Theater, Blaisse’s earliest work with Rem Koolhaas and the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). Hundreds of projects were completed in the span of time marked by those two milestones, and many of them are recorded in this volume. Despite the book’s panoramic scope, collaboration in general, and with OMA in particular, forms a clear through line.

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